165. The Outsider (Lovecraft)

New Warhorn Media post by Nathan Alberson:

Just a few belated thoughts on the Scary-Tales -

I finally got to this Lovecraft story. Not the most enjoyable. It reads more like Poe than some of Lovecraft’s other work in his Chthulhu mythos. (I’ve read several of his Chthulhu stories but otherwise only this and the Shunned House - which actually features a giant-monster-thing so maybe it is a Chthulhu story too but still much different.) So melodramatic and introspective. Less creepy too than something like the Pit and the Pendulum. I read somewhere that Lovecraft got into writing just because he thought he could write better stories than he could find to read. I think Alice Munro did the same. If yall go back someday and hit Lovecraft’s Chthulhu stories, I will appreciate that. Understandable if not able to though. This story really got me thinking about the history of the zombie genre. It seems like its historically more of a genre of cinema than of literature, which is pretty cool if you think about it - the way the medium affects the substance.

I’d never heard of this Saki fellow. This Sredni Vashtar is interesting in ways. Its climax reminds me of O’Connor. (Though Saki is more flippant.) She doesn’t once mention Saki/Munro in her letters. She might not like the comparison but its hard to miss a main character experience an abrupt death at the end of a short story. It feels more Silverstein than O’Connor though. Very sarcastic and snide. I think Saki would have made a great beat poet if he’d lived later. I always find it sad to find a certain “touch” that some people have when they just seem hateful and waste it all.

This Willows guy - Algernon (what a name!) Blackwood. It doesnt surprise me to find out he’s a “true believer” in some type of occultic supernatural. I read his Wendigo some years ago - because it bore a connection to King’s Pet Semetary. The tone, the feel, of Willows was very similar. But Willows is better.

It strikes me how non-believers can experience “the dark side” of the supernatural, how mysterious and scary it can be - not that I would encourage a believer to play with it either. It reminds me of the film Paranormal Activity. I saw it in the theater when it first came out with some Christian brothers. (I can’t remember what got into us - the only horror film I’ve ever seen in a theater…) The crowd’s response was truly shocking. People were absolutely freaking out. Shrieking. Screaming. Gasping. There weren’t four seats together when we arrived shortly before it started and by the time it ended the place was probably only 75% full. I think people are truly haunted by these demonic beings. I’ve not had many obvious “close encounters” but friends of mine who had alcoholic fathers have experienced truly terrifying encounters with unknown forces - things visible in shadows but not in the light… I know some of this is truly our ignorance and our minds playing tricks on us, but not all of it. So Blackwood’s story seems to have the feel of true experiences he probably had or was told. Very creepy. I guess I thought it was a little over-the-top with the guy on the raft and the otter-creature. But overall I would call it affective.

I’m not gonna say anything about Young Goodman Brown though. Neat story. I liked it when I was in high school.


We will. The Outsider can’t be the last word on Lovecraft.